Investing in Your Biggest Asset is More Important Than Ever

Realizing and capitalizing on the benefits of a well-engaged staff group is key to improved customer satisfaction, says Cathy Moran.

When attracting new business to your country club, the member/staff relationship is the essential link in retaining employees and building membership. Investing in quality can help you keep hold of skilled staff simultaneously assuring your guests will have premium service in a welcoming atmosphere. An inevitable consequence of two years of disruption was a need to adapt and survive, not least in how best employees fulfil their roles. In the brave new post-Covid world it is even more vital to nurture positivity and cohesion in your staff group.

In a customer focused environment, high quality service plays a vital part in everyone’s role, from top management, club professionals, grounds-people, to bar and housekeeping staff. It follows that each member of your team must feel their specific job is integral and important to the growth and prosperity of the club. Start with a mission statement for your club that lays out clear aims and goals for excellent customer service, be it answering the ‘phone promptly or maintaining pleasant public areas.

Opinions valued; contributions rewarded and incentives for improvement can make employees feel they are important to your club. Post-Covid, the impetus is on employers to keep employees motivated and engaged. Nobody should expect an easy ride and there can be little room for disgruntled staff who reduce efficiency. The key is to minimise risk by offering a structured path for development that reduces the likelihood of stagnation. Another key aspect to consider is the domino effect when a popular employee moves to a competitor. How likely is it that members will follow? Implementing a robust system based on excellent customer service at all levels will strengthen resilience in a difficult economic climate, as everyone will feel they are part of a bigger investment.

Explore areas where staff can share responsibilities at all levels. An example is training and recruitment. Asking staff to be a part of a process not only makes them feel valued, but encourages personal investment in the club’s mission to be the best. Drawing on the knowledge and skill of experienced staff is invaluable in nurturing the careers of new staff. It is also a great way to embrace existing high standards from the get-go, in a positive culture of excellence.

Customer feedback is another important facet of quality that not only highlights areas for improvement, but enables you to identify a job well done. Thus excellent service can be rewarded and all jobs incentivized. A simple initiative but one that gives an oversight of where the club is lacking or excelling in its parallel mission to retain members. Share the outcome at team meetings so the mission message is always at the forefront of staff goals. A unique benefit of the country club is that it offers numerous opportunities that can be utilized for staff reward, with minimum outlay. From food and drink treats to teeing off and court time, there are plenty of ways in which star staff can enjoy the benefits that their performance deserves. Where possible offer performance related pay increases that emerge from regular performance reviews and achievable goals.

It is equally important to recognise the worth of younger employees in an industry directly aligned with generational influences. The way in which country clubs attract members is changing. There is a natural move away from the stuffy perception of club socializing and an increased lean towards social media as a way of marketing and engaging. Younger staff are vital in identifying ideas and initiatives that appeal to aspirational ideals of a younger age group.

The best managers realize the importance of retaining skilled and talented staff. Ultimately, the real and lasting benefit of a well run club with happy employees is a community-wide reputation for excellence.

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